MOSCOW (Reuters) - Champions Guangzhou Evergrande will aim to reignite their challenge for an eighth successive Chinese Super League title this week buoyed by new arrivals Paulinho and Anderson Talisca as the title race resumes.
Fabio Cannavaro’s side welcome the Brazilian duo to the club as they seek to close a five-point gap on leaders Shanghai SIPG over the remaining 19 games of the Chinese domestic season.
Guangzhou are fifth in the standings, with six points separating the top seven teams after the first 11 games of the campaign, and the southern Chinese side are sure to be boosted by the return of Paulinho in particular.
The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder spent two-and-a-half seasons with the club and won the Asian Champions League title and three Chinese Super League crowns before departing last summer to join Barcelona, where he won the La Liga title.
But the 29-year-old has returned to Guangzhou on loan in the aftermath of Brazil’s quarter-final exit from the World Cup in Russia and he will be expected to play a major role in lifting the fortunes of Evergrande.
The midfielder was instrumental in Evergrande’s dominance of the Chinese game during his previous stint and was given an enthusiastic welcome by the club’s fans on his return to Guangzhou airport at the weekend.
Evergrande return to action on Wednesday when they host bottom side Guizhou Zhicheng at Tianhe Stadium while third-placed Beijing Guoan host Henan Jianye.
League action resumes on Tuesday with leaders Shanghai SIPG travelling to face second placed Shandong Luneng in the most anticipated tie of the first round of fixtures following the league’s break for the World Cup finals.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury